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Palestinian civil servants to continue strike

Jan. 29, 2013 9:32 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 31, 2013 10:13 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- The civil servants union in the West Bank decided on Tuesday to go ahead with protests against the Palestinian Authority's failure to pay salaries.

Civil servants will not work Wednesday in protest of the government's broken promise to distribute an unpaid portion of November's paychecks, the head of the civil servants union said.

“Payment of the remaining portion of November salary serves only the highly paid employees, and so employees will be on strike Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday,” Bassam Zakarna said.

“The government must pay January's salary so as to be able to go back to work. Employees can’t afford to pay for transportation,” he added.

Meanwhile, the general union of teachers said classes would resume Wednesday and Thursday across the West Bank after officials agreed to meet representatives to discuss the crisis.

Bassam Naim, a spokesman for the union, said a committee of experts, teachers and government officials would meet in the hopes of coming to an agreement.

Since early December, Israel has withheld around $100 million in monthly tax revenue it collects on behalf of the PA, aggravating a financial crisis.

Full salaries for public sector workers have not been paid in almost three months and government initiatives to increase revenue by collecting years worth of electricity and water bills from the public have been hampered by street protests.

Israel has previously frozen payments to the PA during times of heightened security and diplomatic tensions, provoking strong international criticism, such as when the UN cultural body UNESCO granted the Palestinians full membership a year ago.
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